4 Empathetic Phrases to Confidently Set Boundaries at Work

Boundaries are a critical part of thriving in any work environment. How do confident women establish these boundaries while maintaining professionalism? Two words: “I will!”

 Here are four examples:

Saying you can’t respond after a certain time, while important, not only has a more negative connotation but also makes you sound less confident. Instead, let your colleagues know when you WILL be available. 

1. “I will be online 9-5.” vs.  “I can’t respond after 5 p.m.”

When you say “Don’t say that,” people might wonder who you are to tell them what they can and can’t say in the office. But when you shut down a topic by saying that you won’t be chiming in, you’re conveying the fact that it’s inappropriate to discuss the subject while also avoiding conflict.

2. “I will not be talking about this subject at work.”  vs.  “Don’t say that.”

This, again, gives your words a more positive connotation. You’re taking charge and forcefully declaring what you’re willing and able to do, rather than focusing on the negative — the things you cannot and/or will not be doing.

3. “I will do X, Y and Z.” vs.  “I can’t do A, B and C.”

When you let the team know that you will check-in, particularly at a specific time, then you’ll reassure your colleagues that their questions won’t go unanswered and you will make yourself available perhaps when you're out of the office or out of the country on vacation.

4. “I will check in.”  vs.  “I don’t have time until…”